You have probably heard this phrase below, and I’ve probably used it myself from time to time, but I was thinking about it over the past week or so, and I realized that these three words may be a myth.
The myth that diets don’t work is likely based in one of the following broad categories:
1) Most people who lose weight gain it back.
2) Those people who say diets don’t work often have an agenda to sell you an expensive product or plan that promises “real” results.
When you think about it, dieting is just learning to make healthy food choices in the right quantities. Dieting in a healthy way is 100 percent different than a fad diet or a starvation diet.
So in those simple terms, dieting does work. Nutritionists, physicians, and researchers have known for ages and ages that the only way to lose weight and maintain that weight loss is through a diet that involves a reduction in caloric intake and the continuation of those healthy choices once a goal weight is achieved. Exercise always helps the dieting process and rarely hurts.
If you make a general statement and say that diets don’t work, that’s almost the same as saying the ocean doesn’t contain water.
I acknowledge that most reputable studies show that people who lose weight aren’t able to stick with their diet very long, nor are they very successful in keeping the weight off. This isn’t the fault of the healthy diet is it?
It wasn’t Weight Watchers fault that I didn’t keep my weight off when I was dieting. The diet would have worked if I had followed it. Same with some of the other healthy diets I tried to follow when I was morbidly obese. The diets were based on good nutrition, but I didn’t follow the diets long enough to lose a substantial amount of weight, nor did I change my eating habits in a way that was sustainable.
The bottom line is (and I’m talking about healthy diets for weight loss) is that the diet itself wasn’t the failure; the person who stopped following the diet and started slipping back into their old eating habits failed. (In my case, me.) This is a hard reality, but one that I had to face as I began to finally not only “diet” to lose weight, but also to consciously change my lifestyle.
Blaming the diet because the dieting person fell off the wagon is like blaming your elliptical machine that you use as a clothes hanger for not making you magically drop pounds and inches.
I feel that the statement that we hear all the time that “diets don’t work” is unfortunate and potentially damaging. With over 66 percent of Americans falling into the overweight and obese category these days, we need to promote the message that a healthy diet, when followed, does work for both weight loss and weight maintenance.
We shouldn’t encourage people to just give up because the perception that diets don’t work, but instead be encouraged that research and personal experience does show that a healthy diet does in fact work. The key is that you have to follow it and keep up with your healthy habits once you’ve reached your goal weight.